As you may know, I love fonts and all things typography. I even have a whole Pinterest board about my typography obsession. So, when I wanted to add some wall letters to my son’s playroom, I couldn’t settle for whatever letters I could find. I wanted to make my own in the fonts of my choice, so an experiment was born.
Now, don’t go thinking I am a whiz with a saw. I am not. In fact, I am super-skittish around power tools. I am hoping to face my power-tool fears soon, but this was not the project. These letters are not made of wood. Instead they are made of 1/2 inch thick foam board, and embellished with acrylic paint, washi tape and Mod-Podge (not pictured).
Here is how I did it. First I picked out my fonts, I went with Bernard MT Condensed (Microsoft System Font) for the “D”, Wisdom Script AI for “is for” and Tekton Pro Bold (Adobe Font) for “dog”. When picking out my fonts, I made sure that the letters were fairly thick to give my letters enough body. Next I opened up Illustrator and made an art board the same size as my sheet of foam board: 20″x30″. Then I laid out my letters, making them as big as I could while fitting on the art board. I printed out each letter or word separately, and laid the letters out on my foam board as I had them in my illustrator template. By the way, you could use Powerpoint or any of several other programs to lay out your letters.
I used the letter pattern papers to make a grid on my foam board, and painted the board with red, yellow, blue and green acrylic paint, different colors under each letter. Somehow, I didn’t take a picture of the board before I cut into it, but suffice it to say that it looked like color-blocking gone wrong.
Next, I traced on the letters. I used the printed out templates and embroidery tracing paper.
I used an x-acto knife to cut out the letters. This process wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. The thick foam board took a toll on my x-acto knife blades. I went through about a blade per letter… that is a lot of blades. I learned not to use a sawing motion and to cut through the surface paper of the foam board first, then go over the cut several times until I got all the way through to the back. It was difficult to get the sides at a right angle from the surface of the letters, but the imperfections didn’t really matter in the end.
In order to hide the ugly, messy, foam sides, I covered them with washi tape. I had originally planned to use contrasting colored washi tape, but after trying it out, I decided that matching the color looked better, so that is what I did.
Putting the washi tape on the sides was a little bit of a challenge as well. It didn’t stick super-well to the foam, especially in the concave sides inside the letters. The tape that was much wider than the side of the letters worked better because there was more to stick to the back, but I had to add lots of little slits to the tape to get it to lie flat on the back. The stubborn washi tape convinced me that I needed to add a little sealant to my DIY wall letters to ensure that the tape stayed stuck to the sides. So, I whipped out a bottle of Mod-Podge matte and put a thick coat over the entire letters. The Mod-Podge added a nice finish as well as keeping the washi tape in place.
All that was left to do was hang them on the wall.
Hanging them on the wall was super-easy. The letters are quite light, so I used the poster hanging Command Strips. The light weight makes them ideal for YMGP’s playroom. Not only can we hang them with no damage on our rented walls, but if they happen to fall off, they won’t cause any damage to our little boy’s head. Win!
Don’t they look adorable next to my dog silhouette art?
In total, my DIY wall letters cost around $15 – $20, while wooden wall letters can cost around $5 a piece before paint and embellishment. Can’t beat the price, and I got to make them exactly how I wanted them.
Are you a typography lover? Will you be carving your own wall letters?